Mississippi HS Highlights

This week's player highlights are three players from West Jones High School and Starkville Academy.

West Jones HS - Derrick Howard is a 5-10, 220-pound linebacker with 4.7 speed. Derrick, who will be starting for the third year this coming season, benches 325 pounds, squats 500 and has a vertical leap of 27 inches.

Derrick, according to my source, has good football instincts, is quick to the ball, is a quality run stopper and has the ability to shut down an offense. One of the top returning defensive players in the West Jones football district, Derrick's honors included 2nd Team All-District as a sophomore and 1st team All-District and 2nd Team All-Area as a junior.

During his career, he has totalled more than 200 tackles. This past season ('03), he recorded 117 tackles, 21 tackles for loss, 5 fumble recoveries, 7 caused fumbles and 2 interceptions. He had a career-high 15 tackles against Laurel High School. Because of huge blow-outs in several games, Derrick played in 39 of a possible 56 quarters this past season for one of the best defensive football teams in the state.

Starkville Academy - According to a source of mine, two players to watch on the SA team are senior-to-be Jake Tomlinson and junior-to-be Jason Coats.

Jason, who pitches and plays shortstop, is 6-0 and weighs 185 pounds. A right-handed pitcher, his velocity this past season was 83-84, with a high of 86. In addition to his fastball, he throws a curveball, changeup and a slurve. His honors include making All--Conference as shortstop and pitcher this past season. He also played for the District 4 team in the just-completed State Games in Meridian. Also an excellent kicker (made a 47-yarder this past season) and quarterback, he earned Honorable Mention All-Conference this past season. He is expected to be SA's starting QB this coming season, after sharing the duties last season. A 4.0 student and the class president, he also excels at soccer and basketball.

Jake is an excellent third baseman who also plays shortstop and pitches. Currently playing for the Bryan Packers, Jake has a long line of athletes in his family, including both grandfathers (Tommy Tomlinson and Billy Stacy) who played professional baseball and football. I believe both played collegiately at Mississippi State. A great hitter, Jake led SA in home runs this past season.

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